This is Marie, writing up my contribution to the happiness of the folks who read our blog: go to Mae’s Bakery and buy all their stuff.
OK, so maybe you have preferences for specific things, and maybe you want to give a little tiny bit of a grain of salt when judging the opinion of someone who likes sugar more than anything else in the world except chocolate, so we will offer a few comments to bring out the details. But you can bet that if it weren’t for traffic on 400 making visiting there from my place of work a completely idiotic thing to do, I’d already have gone back to spend all my money. Well, also because my absolute favorite thing from this visit was something that was offered as a preview so I can’t have more of that yet.
We came by on an invitation for an evening of treats in place of dinner, as a celebration of the one-year anniversary of their opening, a significant milestone for any new business. The staff, led by the owner Beth Castro, was kind enough to pass around some savory buns first (the feta spinach is pretty good and so is the chicken) before we dove into the sweets.
We also got coffee. Neither of us is a particular coffee drinker (I’ve got a serious addiction to caffeine, but it’s fed with hot black tea, preferably loose-leaf and served from a proper teapot) but we both found the presentation by Ben Helfen really interesting. The coffee is sourced from Counter Culture, a wholesaler based in Durham, North Carolina, who cares deeply about sourcing. Counter Culture’s products are available in a few other places that we have visited, including Milk & Honey in Chattanooga. Ben showed us coffee beans, coffee cherries, and talked about the process of making quality coffee, and it was interesting. We sampled four varieties, two of them what they call “comfort” coffees, designed to be more familiar to the average consumer, and two that are more unique and appealing to the adventurous. Mae’s serves these fresh brewed. Grant’s favorite was a blend from Sumatra called “Atu Lintang.”
And then we dove into the sweets. Some eclairs and cream buns came out and were quite nice. Some macarons came next and were just the bomb, especially the lavender lemon; the baker, Xanni Kidd of XK Macarons, also talked for a moment about her work. However, there are two new flavors coming out which we got in our goody box to take home: red velvet, which is fine; and sea salt dark chocolate, which was the absolute top-line best macaron I have ever had. Across the board, the macarons were in every way superior to the macarons available at French and Asian bakeries along Buford Highway, but this one was in a class all its own.
There was also a chocolate chip cookie which was still tender and delicious the next day after having been forgotten unprotected in the goody box overnight, so I can only imagine how it must have tasted fresh out of the case. More research is clearly needed.
Mae’s also has a quite extensive set of gluten-free options. If you look at the photo of the big table, the cupcakes farthest to the right are gluten-free. You really have to get someone to tell you which is which. I rather surprised myself in preferring the taste and texture of the gluten-free white chocolate raspberry cupcake to the chocolate standard gluten-included version. Gluten-free has come a long way since a decade ago, which is the last time I seriously investigated the offerings. (More on this subject in a chapter coming next week.)
We tested some of the treats from our goody box on the kids. Our teenager and toddler each got a cake pop and devoured them. I had merely the tiniest of nibbles, about which I was sad but there was an embarrassment of riches here, folks. The teenager also had one of the excessively cute decorated cookies and proclaimed it a little odd; I couldn’t figure out why until I realized she hadn’t had much experience with royal icing before. That will need to be rectified sometime soon.
Anyway, I am sure you have pretty much gotten the drift. We were excessively happy with our visit – or at least I was; Grant seemed pleased but his sweet tooth doesn’t need a separate wheelbarrow for carrying it around. If you are one of my wheelbarrow set, throw that sucker in the trunk of your car and make your way to Buckhead. You won’t regret it.
(Our visit was at the store’s invitation, and our meal was complementary. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events, please drop Grant a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
Other blog posts about Mae’s Bakery:
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